Friday, November 28, 2008

Sub: It's our time to respond

"Dear all,

I've been a citizen of Mumbai by birth and I've grown to learn that this city has always been the vibrant, 'on-the-go' ones.. a city that never sleeps. But sadly with passing times, all we've been subjected to is terrorism which has killed and tortured one and all.

Every morning when I read the newspaper all I read is about deaths across our country, killings in the name of religion, caste, sex, creed.. Politicians talking about 'Hindu Terrorism' and 'Islamic Terrorism'.. and then building the issue up in a storm, which more often than not ends up in nothing but political agenda for the next elections.

I want to know for how long will this continue? Does it matter what religion the killer belonged to? For how long will my parents spend tense days, wondering if their daughters will reach home safely back home? Why do we let politicians escape the wrath and play the blame-game every time, even as the good and sincere police, army and navy officials fight to save our lives?

Why did the GM of Taj have to lose his wife and three children just to save his guests? Couldn't he have been selfish and run away to save his family first?

Why is all we are doing is sitting at home and setting 'Gtalk Status messages' that show our anger but more so throw light on our helplessness?

Can't we do anything? will we always sit in our cozy homes and wonder when things will change? I'm sorry to say but I have done so myself for all these years. But I've watched this entire episode sitting up all night yesterday and seen how all politicians have done is added their agenda to the entire episode the next morning rather than calling for measures to ensure this wont happen again.

Why don't we have even one politician who can stand up and say that its not time for any elections but for us to cure our country of this situation once and for all?

I want to live free, I want to do my bit.

I'm going to walk silently, from our college to wherever I can till my voice is heard.

I request all of you, who believe that we've had enough to join me. Lets get all colleges around our area and mumbai and all b-schools to stage this walk-out together, open to anyone to join, any common man, who feels he needs a change.. and NOW..


This is an email that a friend of mine sent to our class Yahoo! group.

Lemme tell you a little about myself - I hail from the east of the country and live ( or exist - my choice of word depends on my frame of mind at the time) in the financial capital of India - Mumbai. I have seen and learnt quite a lot from my time here... from the violence against non-Maharashtrians to indifferent "mind-your-own-business-apun-ka-dhanda-ka-time-don't-waste" philosophy, it seems quite overwhelming to the uninitiated... one can point out a million things that is wrong about this mega city but there is one thing that's right about this place that wipes out all of these - it's got it heart in the right place.

Today my home bleeds - bullet ridden and media "weary" (or is that wary?)... a few hundred people have died in these henious attacks while politicians keep fumbling for answers. Devvya's mail filled me with feelings that ranged from anger, anguish and angst. I haven't stepped out my flat for 2 days gripped with unease and the fear of the unknown. With Led Zep, Rastaman Marley, Floyd and Cobain's Nirvana for company, I stare into the grey skies with a prayer on my lips for those whose lives have been turned upside down with this tragedy. I am cynical enough to believe that terror will strike again... my question remains - do we now need "A Wednesday" to cure the mailaise?

Would like to sign-off with Bob Marley's words that have kept me going:

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Preacherman, dont tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you dont know
What life is really worth.
Its not all that glitters is gold;
alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: dont give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. jah!

Get up, stand up! (jah, jah!)
Stand up for your rights! (oh-hoo!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Dont give up the fight! (life is your right!)
Get up, stand up! (so we cant give up the fight!)
Stand up for your rights! (lord, lord!)
Get up, stand up! (keep on struggling on!)
Dont give up the fight! (yeah!)

We sick an tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin n goin to heaven in-a jesus name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you cant fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do? ),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah!)

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights!)
Get up, stand up!
Dont give up the fight! (dont give it up, dont give it up!)
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!)
Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Dont give up the fight! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!

IMC Journal | Part 6

My final entry of the IMC journal… feels good to type this out.  This has been quite an experience to say the least.

The final part of any IMC deals with arguably the most incriminating evidence about the campaign success or failure… yes it’s time for Measurement. The class started off by discussing the United Airlines case wherein the message delivered by the airline was not appreciated by the TG because of the poor service thus creating a brand paradox / disconnect.
This case threw up an interesting point – “having a brand does not necessarily mean being branded” – for instance, airlines are brands but offer largely generic, not differentiated services and customers choose one from the other based on cheapest fare and best suited timings. On the other hand, luxury good like a good cologne are products which are truly branded as one is distinct from another. But even USPs of a brand comes with a sell-by date. For instance, when Air Deccan was launched, it was different from the rest of the airlines operating by virtue of its offering as a low cost airline and thus was branded. Its USP at the time was reflected in its pioneering campaign theme at the time – “now everyone can fly” which appealed to its erstwhile TG. As the low cost carrier market in India became cluttered, Deccan changed its campaign to “Simplifly” which bombed on account of its poor service and its reputation took a severe beating as the TG could not identify simplicity with Deccan – flying on Deccan was far from a simple experience. This forced Deccan to hide behind the Kingfisher brand when it eventually got taken over by the UB group.

Measurement of a campaign therefore essentially tries to evaluate the degree of effectiveness of the customer message through the campaign based on the customer experience the brand has. There must be a connect between customer experience and customer message – this is the reason why a brand like LIC can’t use youthful themes in their promotion.
Measurement Techinques:

1. Generic:
2. Measuring B2C Campaigns:
3. Measuring B2B Campaigns: This can done using ROI unlike in the case of B2C campaigns since the promotion/campaign cost has a direct correlation to sales in a B2B environment. For instance B2B campaign is built on telemarketing, sales calls, employing extra salesmen etc. from which the Communication to lead ration and subsequently Lead to conversion ratio can be calculated. Also since cost of the campaign and the revenue is know, ROI is a good indicator of campaign effectiveness. In case of B2C ROI cannot be used to measure campaign effectiveness as in a B2C environment, repeat purchases, snowball effect of referrals and average order size pre and post campaign is nearly impossible to track.

4. Online Measurement: In this case the medium itself is the measurement. The net is perfect for measuring the click through rates of advertisements, number of repeat visitors, number of registrations/subscriptions and number of forwards (referrals). Also the internet can be used for emailer campaigns and the ROI of such a campaign can be effectively used for measuring its success. Also the internet can be used to measure the effectiveness of various contests and coupon based promotion schemes as a part of the Integrated Marketing Campaign.

IMC Journal | Part 5.2

Jeff Bezos says that “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Thus to protecting and building reputation is critical for a company’s brand equity and this is the very reason why PR or Public Relations has become an integral part of any Integrated Marketing Communication. The formal definition of PR: “ Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.” [Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e.]

Wiki adds that ”PR gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. Because public relations places exposure in credible third-party outlets, it offers a third-party legitimacy that advertising does not have. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.”

This is very much in line with the class discussion of PR where we discussed the two roles of PR:
1. Crisis Manager
2. Reputation Custodian
In its the first role as a Crisis Manager, as the oft-quoted J&J Tyrannol case, PR helps to protect brand equity. This type of PR is used to diffuse WMD aka WOM Crisis Elevation (as Ramanujam Sridhar writes in his book “One Land One Million Minds” – a great read with fantastic examples in the Indian context). In India in fact PR is still used primarily if a company has a problem as seen from the case of Cadbury with their worm in chocolate problem or the Cola Twin – Coke & Pepsi – with their pesti-cola problem. Interesting, sometimes brands create controversies to remain relevant – Indian micro-celebs seem to engage in such activities the most – ala Rakhi Sawant.

PR extensively uses the leverages the power of the press and thus is extensively used during M&As - by both the aquirer and aquiree to up their brand worth - as can be seen during the Tata-Jaguar+Land Rover case. In fact, the Tata Corporate Brand is almost entirely built on PR.
In its other role as a reputation custodian, it is most often used by…
• Hotels. Politicians, Celebrities ,etc. to guard against loss of face / reputation
• Industry bodies such as FICCI and CII to leverage their sectors
• Companies to build their CSR brand (Ms. Meena Galliara would balk at this)
• Companies building up for IPOS
Also, Celebrity endorsement is also often done through PR (as per contractual terms) in a public forum – Oprah Winfrey advocating the benefits of a slimming pill is an instance of such PR.

IMC Journal | Part 5.1

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sometimes even a moment can make a difference, so it’s no surprise that the world (have I told you about the frog-in-well existence of MBAs?) has changed, quite dramatically, since my last blog entry.

Since then the IMC presentation is done and dusted… ImagiNation didn’t quite fly high, if marks are the metric – but then the problem with numbers/statistics, in the words of the much maligned blabbermouth Sidhu, is that “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital!” – so even though the other team was ‘Infite’ly ahead this time, I’m proud to have put up a good show… also when the project came up and the 30-person-a-team bombshell hit us, I had a smirk on my face that said “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” – at the end of the project all I have is a wry smile as the joke’s on the few of the 30 who put in their all.

Also got back the ‘not-so-sinister’ mid-term paper that I had talked about… the questions were good, my performance to put it in a word - abysmal … hey bhagwan – izzat rakhna final exam mein … kripa karna prabhu! Like the Cycle aggarbatti advertisement goes, ‘everyone has a reason to pray’ and entire NM is praying for some relief with exams starting this Monday and classes and the zillionth (mindless?) presentations ending today evening – talk about management! Anyway time to get started with the real journal entry – time is the essence here... and we’re knockin’ on heaven’s doors!
The fifth lecture was the class where we analysed two cases – the Guinness Brand Marketing case and the P&G case interesting titled “Don’t shout, Listen”. This day was also the day that Fahrenheit 2008 was on in full force and Team ImagiNation’s campaign culminated in the event we held in the evening during Mad Ads.

Aah Guinness! Lovely black stout Irish brew. Had no idea that it was 2 ½ CENTURIES old brand though I am in love with the rich creamy smooth concoction. Another matter that I can’t afford it at 400 bucks a glass at the ITC last time I checked. But the taste from my last UK vacation lingers on… (digressing again – but the Indian copy Haywards Black is garbage) and thus was really happy to have analysed a case that actually I could connect with.
According to the case, Guinness is an old, established, global brand that had a loyal mature user group. The problem was that the identity of the brand had become its constraint i.e. the brand DNA had become its restricting factor and led to its undoing in new markets. The demographic in Ireland was changing and the youth preferred light beer to the stout Guinness. Clearly its old positioning wasn’t clicking with the new customers and the company’s revival strategy revolved around creating new experiences by creating fresh customer touchpoints.

This concept was talked about in the book “The Experience Economy” written in 1999 by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. The book says that “Businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, they argue, and that memory itself becomes the product - the "experience". More advanced experience businesses can begin charging for the value of the "transformation" that an experience offers, e.g. as education offerings might do if they were able to participate in the value that is created by the educated individual. This, they argue, is a natural progression in the value added by the business over and above its inputs.” Wikipedia  (yes the gyaan is not original) adds that: “Although the concept of the experience economy was born in the business field, it has crossed its frontiers to urban planners, tourism, architecture and other fields.”

Thus ‘experience economy’ is also considered as main underpinning for customer experience management wherein “all businesses are theatres and the customer is the product”. Guinness treaded a similar path when they created the awesome Guiness Storehouse (Note to myself: put it in on my 100 places to visit before I die!). With this Guinness went on to create an experience for the customer that it hoped would create a memory and hence the customer would become a “product” of their experience.

“Guinness as a brand is all about community. It’s all about bringing people together and sharing stories,” according to Ralph Ardill, Director of marketing of Imagination Ltd. (rings a bell? ) who designed the place. This was an attempt to build on the core DNA of the brand.
The Storehouse, which was designed to be futuristic from inside and traditional outside (aimed at both the existing as well as the new customers), was created with the intention of developing a cult culture where likeminded individuals could hang out together and share experiences. Also, Guinness concentrated on consumption of the brew rather than production (not how Guinness was brewed) even though the Storehouse looked like a traditional brewery from outside.

The company also created symbolism through the pebble – this is a good example of atypical branding. The pebble was a conversation piece and helped the company build mindshare as it forced the customer to think – to be curious – and to leave with a souvenir – creating an aura around the brand. Thus Guinness had successfully created a destination brand with a memorabilia. Similar example of a destination brand can be found all over the British isles – for instance the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford – the home of the best football team in the world: Manchester United (Glory glory Man Utd.) and the Wimbledon Museum – the Mecca of tennis. Hard Rock Café and Planted Hollywood are a couple of more instances of destination brands.
An interesting thing common to all destination brands is that all of these “Torment the Customer” i.e. they are all aspirational brands. By way of its location, the Storehouse too is only accessible to those who visit Dublin making the faithful perceive that it is their ‘personal, exclusive’ experience and thus it adds aura to the brand. (There was actually a HBR paper titled “Torment your customer, they’ll love it” – well the iPhone did it very recently and they were quite successful and Microsoft has been doing it with their planned obsolescence strategy. Harry Potter did it in the UK to small kids when the pre-release hype about shortage made young kids wait in a queue all night long to grab a copy… talk about Business Ethics!)

The core learnings from the case are:
1. Resurrecting a brand with a new segment of customers – within repositioning adopting a dual strategy to cater to the existing as well as the new customers using a common medium (the Storehouse).
2. It was a matter of survival due to brand decline.
3. Declince of PLC necessitated keeping existing customers and also attempting to develop new customers.
4. Consumption experience created a destination brand.
5. Took elements from the original identity and filtered it into creating a “legacy” with some “change” – namely destination brand creation, the conversation piece: the pebble and an aspirational experience.
At this point, I disappeared to participate in the Gas-o-meter event and enjoyed doing what many say I do well… gave gas! Alas Ajay A. & Co. beat us to the title – we were blown away by their gas!

The other case was also interesting, and what P&G did as per this case was that it turned the internet into a device for listening to customers and for experimenting with brands. Thus the site helped P & G to enlist and empower the customer and eventually enslave him. It created 3 websites with 3 different intentions:
1. was a case of thematic branding that made the customers bond with the product – it was more of an enlisting strategy than an empowering strategy.
2. was about mass customization and was purely an empowering strategy – unlike in the case of, P&G disassociated itself and its logos from the sire as the site offered user driven experience over which the company had no control – a wrong (unqualified) customer choice could go on to tarnish the company’s brand equity. So there was a risk avoided of the P&G brand being compromised and hence the disassociation of branding. (A similar brand disassociation strategy is followed by the Taj Hotels Group in India where the Taj Hotel being a 5 star is disassociated from their economy hotel cousin brand, the Ginger Hotel). Also the customized product offering allowed P&G to charge a premium and it had free customer generated R&D and product design to boot!
3. was again an empowering strategy that helped P&G gain customer insight through the website which acted a “quasi focus group”. This helped the company pickup specific messages and words and help the company in developing a focused targeting strategy.
Therefore by creating these websites P&G had a free internet based laboratory for future product development as well a medium for personal customer communication that allowed customers to use the site as an evaluation tool giving the company invaluable firsthand consumer feedback.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

IMC Project - ImagiNation: Have you done it yet? - A Retrospective

"It is good to have an end to journey toward;
but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
- Urusala K. LeGuin

Team ImagiNation could not agree more… for our journey of team was indeed splendid. All the teams under ImagiNation, i.e., Strategy Team, Market Research, Creative Team, Execution Team and Marketing Team, played an indispensable part in making the project a reality.

Team ImagiNation’s core idea of making India a sensory destination – where a visitor could use all his five senses, and not just an exotic visual destination - a country of monuments. We believe that the Incredible India campaign had primarily promoted the monuments and the exotic locales and had largely ignored our rich and varied cultural offerings.
The Strategy Team gave us direction and vision. They came up with an initial draft of the way forward (enclosed) which was refined as our collective campaign direction evolved.
The Market Research Team did exceptionally well to back up our ideas with a lot of substance with their solid research work at all stages of the campaign development – conception, execution and measurement. We conducted a primary survey which surveyed foreign nationals on their perception about India. Demographic data was also obtained from the survey like the age, occupation, budget and duration for a holiday and the perception about India. We conducted a secondary research on the nationalities visiting India the most. From our analysis, we found that the trend of foreign exchange earnings and tourist arrivals has been on the rise over the years with the growth in visitors from the USA, Canada and Australia being splendid. The Creative Team's most significant contribution was branding the campaign and deciding the media plan.
The NM teaser campaign and the subsequent event launch saw the Design team’s creativity reach its zenith. The various posters depicting scenes from across the country surely titillated the five senses, be it dance, music, food, jewelry or simply the image of a warm Indian welcome! The Marketing Team did their job by spreading our good word by strategically placing the posters in the campus for generating maximum eyeballs and curiosity. This was followed by the event ‘Have you done it yet’ conducted on the first day of the cultural fest at NMIMS, ‘Fahrenheit’. To test the efficacy of the Campaign launch conducted, the target audience was surveyed.

We did a detailed state wise analysis and tried to find out the cultural art forms present in each one of them (Design Team). We also did an in-depth study of the various institutions with which we could tie up for promoting the various cultural art / skill forms (Marketing Team). The rationale behind researching the states and the institutions was to understand whether we could offer our guests customized packages over the internet and also, to use the data effectively in the media which would be the backbone of our campaign - the Internet.
Our major emphasis was on exploiting the internet (through our website – for promoting our campaign. The advantages of using this media are many-fold. The Internet, apart from imparting complete information about India and the campaign, would also help in promoting tourism. The website would offer customized packages under the package selector tab for visitors depending on the state that they wanted to visit and the experience that they wanted to savour.
Air India and Tantra would be prospected to support our campaign by co-branding with us. Both these co-branding efforts would be revenue generators. While Air India, the nation’s official airlines would fly in the tourists, Tantra, with its whacky, creative designs yet distinct Indian flavour, would capture the essence of our campaign for all visitors to remember. The website would also capture the experiences of visitors by way of promoting social forums, discussions and blogs. Various other media like print, TV Advertisements and road shows would be utilized to promote the campaign. With the right use of media at the right phase of the campaign and with the active participation of team Imagination, the campaign would be a huge success which would benefit the tourism industry, thereby revamping the overall image of India.

Our journey has come to an end… for now – but, the collective dream remains – we hope to promote our cultural offerings effectively through a campaign in the real world – and for that, we have miles to go before we sleep.
The credit for this writeup goes entirely to Rohit Singh. Well written Rohit and hats off to all 29 members of Team ImagiNation :) - We rocked guys!

PS - if anyone has photos of the presentation, please mail them to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


(This one is by Melvin Durai - he is a Winnipeg-based writer and humorist. Born in India and raised in Zambia, he has lived in North America since 1982. Through the Internet, his column is read by thousands of people in more than 90 countries. This week's column hits the bull's eye...)

In case you missed the news, in case you were sleeping under a rock or just got released from Guantanamo, India won its first-ever individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, causing 1.1 billion people to jump up and down with joy, touching off a minor earthquake in California and a major interruption in tech support.

Yes, an Indian man won an Olympic gold medal -- and without all his opponents getting injured. Abhinav Bindra, a 25-year-old from Delhi, won first place in the 10m air rifle event, beating 50 other shooters, including that great Albanian marksman Imer Gudschot.

So excited were members of the Indian Olympic Association, so taken in this moment of high-fives and champagne-popping, that some of them checked the official medal table to see if India had moved past America. No such luck, of course, but that didn't stop Indians from celebrating like it as the greatest Olympic achievement ever. And who can blame them? After all, it was their first individual gold medal since India began competing in the Olympics more than a century ago, back in the days when 'catapulting' was an official sport.

'The drought is over!' screamed one newspaper's headline, causing even more celebration across the land, particularly in the farming community.

It was a shining moment for India on the world's greatest sporting stage. As one Indian politician eloquently put it, 'Abhinav Bindra has shooted us all into glory!'

Almost everyone in India, from the Prime Minister to the church minister, heaped praise on Bindra. Even members of the Indian Astronomers Association, attending a convention in Pune, took a break from the proceedings to applaud the 'shooting star.'

Congratulatory messages poured into India from all over the world. U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, hoping to endear himself to Indian-American voters, sent a congratulatory card that he said was 'from one straight shooter to another.'

Indian legislators debated a motion to celebrate Aug. 11 every year as Gold Medal Day. They voted down a proposal to display Bindra's medal at a national museum in Delhi, amid fears that the building would not be able to handle the millions who would come to view it.

The excitement and celebration may have seemed overblown, but not to Indians. 'People around the world may not know this,' a Chennai man said, 'but we Indians really love gold!'

Bindra's victory, combined with shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, is expected to increase the popularity of shooting in India, drawing thousands of youngsters to shooting competitions and exhibitions during breaks from cricket.

'We want shooting to be more popular in India,' said sports administrator Baljit Singh, 'but not as popular as it is in America.'

Hoping to match the success of TGC (The Golf Channel) in America, media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced that Indian viewers would soon be treated to TSC (The Shooting Channel). It's expected to feature various shooting competitions from around the world, as well as reruns of the American shows 'Gunsmoke' and 'Have Gun Will Travel.'

Rajesh Patel, who has been hired as a TSC analyst, said Bindra's victory will have a lasting impact in India, even on sports announcing. 'We're not going to say that someone's performance is 'simply wonderful' anymore,' he said. 'We're going to say that it's 'simply Bindraful.''

Schoolchildren for years to come will learn about Bindra, thanks partly to an Indian publisher who has already put out a special alphabet book: 'A is for Abhinav. Abhinav is first name of champion. B is for Bindra. Bindra is surname of champion. C is for Chapati. Chapati is food of champion.'

Bindra has not just earned a lifetime of adulation, he has become India's most eligible bachelor, receiving a flood of marriage proposals. Said his proud mother: 'We have received proposals from North Indians, South Indians, even West Indians.'

Indeed, a Trinidad dairy farmer with a 20-year-old daughter offered 1,000 cows in dowry, but Bindra turned down the offer, saying he doesn't want to milk his fame.

That pleased Indian sports fans, who want Bindra to choose his bride carefully, believing that the country's future Olympic glory rests partly on what type of genes his children inherit. Some are even dreaming of a match between Bindra and badminton star Saina Nehwal, an Olympic quarterfinalist. But that would be folly, according to one Indian scientist, who said, 'If we match a badmintoner with a shooter, we might end up with a badshooter.'

IMC Campaign Dissection | Rang De Basanti

Industry Background: The Indian Film Industry – A Century Old Young Industry

Motion pictures came to India in 1896, when the Lumière Brothers' Chinematographe unveiled six soundless short films in erstwhile Bombay (now Mumbai). This was just a year after the Lumière Brothers (inventors of cinematography) had set up their company in Paris. The first Indian on record to make a movie was Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatvadekar. He made one short film on a wrestling match at the Hanging Gardens in Bombay, and another on the playfulness of monkeys. Both these shorts were made in 1897 and were publicly exhibited for the first time in 1899 using Edison's projecting kinetoscope inside a tent which the film maker had himself erected. India's first feature film was a silent movie named "King Harishchandra" made by the legendary Dhundiraj Govind Phalke and was released in 1913. By 1920, film making had taken the shape of an industry. The first talkie made in India was "Alam Ara" (produced by Imperial Film Company) released in 1931. Until the 1960s, film-making companies, many of whom owned studios, dominated the film industry. Artistes and technicians were either their employees or were contracted on long-term basis. Since the 1960s, however, most performers went the freelance way, resulting in the star system and huge escalations in film production costs.

According to unofficial estimates, in January 2001, the Indian film industry had an annual turnover of Rs. 60 billion (approximately US$1.33 billion) and employed more than 6 million people, most of whom were contract workers. Interestingly, until the late 1990s, it was not even recognised officially as an industry.

In recent years, the Indian Film Industry, especially the Hindi Film Industry based in Mumbai (often referred to as Bollywood) has undergone a wave of corporatization. In 2007 a report by CII-AT Kearney titled 'The new economics of the Indian film industry: creativity and transformation' estimated the Indian film industry was worth around US$1.8 billion in 2006 (around Rs 7,500 crore) and expected to grow at 25% per annum in value terms for the next four years to reach US$4.5 to US$5.1 billion (around Rs 20,000 crore) by 2011.

The CII–AT Kearney Report says, "The Indian film industry is on the threshold of a transformation driven by digitisation and changing customer preferences which will have a significant impact on business models - both within and across the media and entertainment value chains… Technology, changing customer preferences and globalization of Indian content is changing the context, trajectory and imperatives for the Indian creative industry. It is creating new avenues and means of delivering content to India and abroad as well as developing newer and more efficient means of creating them."

It is estimated by experts that a “big budget” Hindi movie can cost in excess of US$30 million (around Rs. 120 Crores) with the 'bigness' of the budget is attributable mainly to the high fees paid to 'stars', celebrated music directors, high-end technologies and expensive travel costs to shoot in exotic locations worldwide. In such a scenario, where the ‘product’ making cost is astronomically high, it becomes imperative that the ‘product’ is marketed well to connect with the target audience. The new millennium injected new scientific marketing techniques into the tinsel town. The industry realized that unless the communication connects with the audience, there was little hope to earn a return on investment.

We chose to dissect the campaign of Rang De Basanti primarily because both of us had immensely enjoyed watching the movie and because even after a good 2 ½ years after the movie was released, we still remember the tagline/message of the movie: “A Generation Awakens”.

Product Description: Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti (Paint It Yellow) is a 2006 Indian drama film written and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. It features an ensemble cast comprising of Aamir Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan, Kunal Kapoor, Siddharth Narayan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni, British actress Alice Patten and veteran actors - Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Kirron Kher and Anupam Kher in supporting roles. Made on a budget of Rs. 25 crores, the filming was completed in and around New Delhi. It was produced by UTV Motion Pictures and was released on 26th January (Republic Day) 2006. The soundtrack of Rang De Basanti, which was released by Sony BMG, featured music composed by A. R. Rahman and lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi and Blaaze, an Indian-based rapper.

The storyline of the film narrates the tale of a British documentary filmmaker who based on accounts taken from diary entries of her grandfather (a former officer of the British Army in India), is determined to make a film on Indian freedom fighters. She requests a group of youngsters, which is indifferent to the state of affairs in India, to act in her film. After they agree and begin filming, the protagonists start living the lives of the freedom fighters that they essay in the documentary. A dear friend's death (a fighter pilot) in a fighter plane crash is attributed to the pilot’s fault rather than the government’s corruption metamorphosizes them into passion-driven individuals who are determined to avenge his death.

The Market:

1. The Corporation: UTV Software Communications Limited, popularly known as UTV, is amongst India’s foremost Media & Entertainment Company with interest in 4 verticals that include:
• Movies
• Interactive (Animation and Gaming)
• Broadcasting
• Television content & services

UTV ventured into movie making with the launch of UMP Plc in 1995-96. Over time, UMP Plc has emerged as one of the largest movie studios in South Asia. UMP Plc has been a catalyst in corporatising the Indian system of movie making by pioneering the Studio Model. Apart from Rang De Basanti, it has also produced movies such as Lakshya, Swades and Fiza. UMP Plc has also entered into strategic Hollywood co-productions with studios like 20thCentury Fox, Sony and Will Smith’s Overbrook becoming the first Indian company to do so.

UTV’s movie production is complimented by its strong distribution networks spanning a large number of screens across the world. This network endows distribution girth and depth to multilingual movies in global markets like US, UK, Middle East, South Africa, Australia, and Japan. Besides its own productions, movies like Mughal-E-Azam, Parineeta and Bluffmaster are some of the heavyweights distributed by UMP.

Listed on India’s premier stock exchange, The Bombay Stock Exchange, UTV is a diversified media and entertainment company with content creation abilities across platforms and genres. It has subsidiaries with offices across India, Mauritius, UK and USA. Walt Disney Inc. holds a strategic stake in UTV. For the quarter ended June 30, 2008, UTV, as compared with the same period previous fiscal, reported a growth of 154% in Total Revenue to Rs 1,452 million from Rs 571 million, and 176% in Net Profit to Rs 251 million from Rs 91 million.

2. The Customers: Cricket and Cinema are an intrinsic part of the Indian way of life, with cricketers and film stars enjoying demigod status in the country. According to the national readership survey in India for 2006, 39 million Indians go to the movies (at least once a month) and although cinema viewership has declined in recent times, these figures are still staggering for they indicate the importance of cinema in India.

The survey also reveals that cinema viewership among urban Indian audiences is on the increase unlike in rural India. There were also 23 million regular theatre goers in urban Indian in 2005, in comparison to the 25 million in 2006. The audience for mainstream Indian films is comprised not only of Indians in their home country but also diasporic viewers in large parts of the Middle-East and South-East Asia, the UK, US and Europe. Indian diaspora constitutes more than 20 million people, settled in around 70 countries of the world. In 2003, Indian films reached around 3.4 billion viewers in all parts of the world. (A record number of Indian films reached the blockbuster status in the US in 2006 with half of the 14 foreign language films that grossed over US$2 million being in Hindi. No other language came close to contributing so many box office hits to the list.)

Additionally, the onset of satellite television in India during the early 90s also aided the popularization of Indian cinema. This is because Indian television satisfied the demand for films as well as film based programming. Moreover, “Television offered the film industry not just additional viewership but also an additional revenue stream” and this made it profitable for television channels to support the Indian film industry. It is also necessary to note that although 39 million Indians go to the movies, the majority of these audiences are under the age group of 25 , which is why most filmmakers target their films to this demographic group. Industry estimates of the youth market state that Indian youngsters wield US$2.8 billion worth of discretionary income, and their families spend an additional US$3.7 billion on them every year. By 2015, Indians under 20 will make up 55% of the population and wield proportionately higher spending power. The release of Bollywood youth films, especially in the years post 2000 bear testimony to this fact. Apart from sporting a fresh, youthful look, these films also have themes that the youth can identify with as in the case of Rang De Basanti that captured the imagination of the country.

According to observers of the Hindi film industry, Indian filmmakers are increasingly being guided by the choices of this youth brigade which is fast replacing the family audiences of yesteryears. In every market, “white spaces” or niches need to be identified and addressed. As a result, producers are now open to the idea of making films that satisfy the needs of the younger crowds who demand “aesthetic realism”. Young audiences who have grown up watching films from Hollywood are now unwilling to watch excessively dramatic and over the top Hindi films. This change in audience tastes is also a result of globalization and urbanization in the Indian society post 1991. Analyzing the changing economic and social trends during the 1990’s reveals that the Indian society underwent a great deal of transition in this period due to economic liberalization and globalization. The tinsel town is finally realizing the untapped potential of the Indian youth market best captured in the words of leading Indian film producer Pahlaj Nihalani - “The youth are our biggest market.” One such youth movie which broke new grounds in India in terms of its box office success, marketing, as well as audience response was Rang De Basanti.

3. The Competition: During the time that Rang De Basanti was to be released, the Indian Cricket Team was tour archrivals Pakistan (January 2006). This one of the biggest competitions faced by the film given India’s cricket crazy public. More traditional completion was from the other high profile movies to be released in 2006 including Hrithik Roshan starrer Dhoom 2, Omkara, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and the other Aamir Khan starrer Fanaah. Thus Team Rang De Basanti had to ensure that the marketing campaign of the movie connected with the target audience and it translated into financial success.

The 6 M Model:

1. Mission: As UTV (United Television) spent 40% of the film’s production budget on promotion, UTV’s mission was very clear –launch the film with a bang and ensure maximum collections in the first few weeks. UTV went out of its way to tie-up with numerous brands to promote Rang De Basanti with the dual intention of 360 degree promotion while at the same time recovering its production costs through advertising/promotions if not through the sales of its tickets and music rights. In order to recover its heavy production costs, UTV needed to create a unique brand image for Rang De Basanti and it needed to create a buzz about the film much before its release so that the film could gain from co-branding and advertising revenues. It was this aspect that framed the marketing and communication strategy of Rang De Basanti.
The mission of the campaign changed as the film moved along the PLC (illustrated before):
• Pre-Launch Stage --> Ensure Successful Film Launch [Pioneering Campaign]
• Introduction --> Maximize Box Office Collections [Pioneering Campaign]
• Growth --> DVD Sales + Keep Box Office Collections Going [Competitive Campaign]
• Maturity --> Maximum Viewership of TV Premiere [Retentive Campaign]

2. Message: “Be Socially Relevant”
The brand image of Rang De Basanti was centered on its tagline which read, ‘a generation awakens’ and even the entire marketing campaign of the movie was centered on this theme. Everything from the use of the graffiti wall (shown in the picture below) in the publicity designs reflecting youth, attitude and rebellion; to ensuring a seamless personality fit with the brands associated with the film, the marketing of Rang De Basanti tried to stay true to the theme of the film.

Though Rang De Basanti had patriotic overtones and its protagonists played the roles of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad, it was initially not promoted as patriotic film. (Introduction Phase) This was especially due to the fact that recent past, four Hindi films made on Shaheed Bhagat Singh had been released and these had subsequently bombed at the box office. However, with the movie being released on Republic Day 26th January 2006, it did have a subliminal patriotic message.

The message that the film sent out was “Be Socially Relevant” and in doing so and by choosing themes that lent themselves to TV discussions (such as MiG-21 deaths in Rang de Basanti), the film garnered valuable free airtime. It also helped that they had tied up with popular news broadcaster NDTV as a media partner – in fact NDTV had substantial in-film advertising. The film connected with the target audience well and by the time it entered the growth phase, i.e. when the Home Video DVD was launched, the film’s message of had firmly hit home as it can be gauged by Rang De Basanti style youth activism for various causes such as Jessica Lall murder case.

Internationally, the message to the audience was that the film captured the pulse of the new, vibrant and young India. The TV premiere (on Star Gold) of the film was on 2 October 2006 (Gandhi Jayanti) had an all out patriotic message and was accompanied by a special program called ‘Rang De Basanti Salaam’ that celebrated India’s’ unsung heroes’ and was hosted by Aamir Khan.

3. Market: Urban Youth: Rang De Basanti focused on the urban and educated youngsters of post – independent India, it conveyed their mindset by portraying their ways and speaking their language. It therefore provided a perfect backdrop for highlighting the issues of changing culture, identities, participation in public sphere of life among others.

Also, Indians love their cinema which is why India is the world’s largest producer of films. India boasts of a thriving film industry that produces more than 1000 feature films annually in almost all Indian languages and these are seen in over 13,000 cinema halls in the country. Also a stunning statistic from The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reveals that: “Every three months an audience as large as India’s entire population flocks to the cinema halls.” - proving the regular movie watching habit of the masses.

Rang De Basanti was predominantly marketed towards the cinema going urban youth, and it was quite successful in accomplishing that as youngsters connected with the theme of the movie. The film had a distinct North Indian flavour, having been largely shot in New Delhi, but clever co-branding associations ensured that it connected with the intended Pan-Indian Gen X audience.

In fact Rang De Basanti was filmed keeping this particular audience in mind and was in fact scripted by Kamlesh Pandey, the scriptwriter after a focus group interview with 150 youngsters. Intensive research of this kind is highly uncommon for a Hindi film and the director, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, used the information from the focus group interviews in order to come up with the true to life story of Rang De Basanti. According to Mehra, the Rang De Basanti strategy owed a lot to one shelved project he had 10 years back. He elaborated, "There was this project Aahuti and the story revolved around the pre-independence patriotism. I had spent five years, researching on the project. However, I was disappointed with feedback I received from youth groups in Mumbai and Delhi. I learnt the bitter truth that, patriotism doesn't appeal today's youth. Those discussions actually revealed the weaknesses of the project. Later, when the Rang De Basanti project came up, I revisited my earlier learnings. Something different was required to provide Rang De Basanti a mass appeal. I thought, I must speak to today's generation. Taking tips from various age-old youth imageries around the world, I decided to promote the film in a totally new light. We pulled off a method that appeals to the youth and make them think about the issues around them. The tagline 'A generation awakens' summed up what we wanted to convey through our promos." 

4. Medium: Used 360 degree Integrated Marketing Media
"We have tied up with media partners such as Radio Mirchi, MSN and Channel [V] to ensure a 360-degree surround impact with viewers for Rang De Basanti. Each of these partners comes on board with massive media support, which is a win-win for both parties."
- Mr. Ronnie Screwala, CEO, UTV

1. Co Branding:
a. Rang De Basanti Special Edition Bottles From Coca-Cola: For the very first time in the history of Indian Movie Marketing, the most recognized consumer brand in the World - Coca-Cola launched a special edition bottle - inspired by the ‘spirit of Rang De Basanti'. The bottle was packaged with a wrap-around label featuring the key art of the film - a bunch of friends who decide to accept responsibility for change taking pride in their beliefs, thus propagating Coca-Cola's key message - "Piyo sar utha ke". The unique association was extended across specially produced television commercials , print ads and radio spots.
b. Rang De Basanti Range Of Merchandise In Association With Provogue: In a pioneering first-of-its-kind licensing tie-up in Indian Movie Marketing, wherein the apparel brand Provogue launched a whole new range of clothing ‘inspired by Rang De Basanti'. The merchandise was aimed at giving audiences another 'touch-feel' opportunity to interact with the brand, with the clothing designs reflecting the tone, look and message of the film. 'Rang De Basanti - Provogue' merchandise was launched with a star-studded fashion event in which the cast of the film walked the ramp showcasing the apparel, and vocalists from the film, including Daler Mehndi, performed to hits from the popular soundtrack of the movie. The event was broadcast in primetime on Zee TV, driving incredible reach and visibility for both Rang De Basanti and Provogue. 'Rang De Basanti' merchandise, was made available at key Provogue outlets, was also promoted with full-page print ads across major cities.
c. Rang De Basanti LG Association: The movie also lent its colors and vibrancy to LG when it launched the new LGC2500 mobile, targeted at the youth. LG had packed the phone with exclusive wallpapers and screensavers from the film. This period also saw the launch of the Rang De Basanti game for mobile phones which was all about five friends defeating corrupt politicians in India. This media campaign by LG was very successful and promoted nationwide in print and television. Additionally, LG’s marketing strategy was clever because it induced Indian consumers to purchase the LG mobile as a part of their patriotic duty towards the country. The above is a reason why Rang De Basanti’s brand partnerships were perceived as social, patriotic and evaluated in a positive manner by the Indian public.
d. Rang De Paathshaala Tour In Association With Airtel: In an effort to reach out to Gen Next, the cast and crew of the film visited a Delhi campus to interact with the students, asking each one of them to "Express Yourself!" (the Airtel tagline). The student talked about a range of issues about the current state of the country and our youth - and it was covered by NDTV to be aired in the week before the release. This partnership between Rang De Basanti and Airtel was very profitable for both the parties as it took their campaign directly to schools and colleges and also prevented their partnership from being viewed from the commercial standpoint.
e. Rang De Basanti And Berger Paints: Berger Paints tied up with the film with a multimedia campaign covering Television, Print and Outdoor.
f. Rang De Basanti And Club HP: Hindustan Petroleum tied up with Rang De Basanti in a unique association which involved the film’s branding at 200 key HP petrol stations across the country, including banners, hoardings and standees at prominent spots.

2. Aamir Khan: Aamir Khan is not only known as one of the most versatile and intelligent actors in the Hindi Film Industry but is also recognised to be an uncanny marketer of his films. He is known to be very choosy about his movies and “live his character” for the movie including sporting a new look for each of his releases since “Dil Chahta Hai” (2001) get mass media hype and create a buzz about the film.

Costume Designer Arjun Bhasin described Aamir’s Rang De Basanti youthful look as “Aamir's look came out of the fact that he is slightly older than the other boys. His character is the type who does not go out shopping or look at any fashion magazine. If he is comfortable in a pair of jeans, he will not buy another till this one falls off his body. DJ is a free spirit. He has a paternal feel to his character, because he takes care of the boys. His look is a little sloppy and not refined. A hardcore Punjabi boy, residing in Delhi.”

3. Promotion: The movie was also well promoted through the all ‘conventional’ media vehicles including print, television, radio, OOH and the internet. The music director for the film was A.R. Rahman and this was well publicized right from the very start. The music and television trailer promos started appearing from November 2005 and were well received. The music was launched in December 2005 and was an instant hit - Rahman had worked his magic yet again with superhit chartbusters like “Roobaroo” and “Rang De Basanti” (the latter being the title track of the film sung by Daler Mehendi). These promos created a lot of buzz around the movie. A reviewer described the television trailer as: “As the trailer of Rang De Basanti opens, some color literally flows in as graffiti is spray painted on walls of dilapidated ancient monuments in Delhi. 'This January… a generation awakens' says the tagline as it introduces its lead star cast starting with Aamir Khan who plays the central character. In a wayward youthful hairdo (a pleasant change after the long locks of Mangal Pandey) and clad in jeans and leather jackets, it's a treat to watch Aamir Khan get back into the young-at-heart Dil Chahta Hai mode. Daler Mehendi grabs your attention with his spirited rendition of the title track of Rang De Basanti in the background. A.R.Rehman comes up with one of his most peppy compositions for this number and while his music usually takes time to grow on you, this one is of the instantly catchy varieties. Expect more magic from the maestro in this album.”
In early January 2006, the theatrical promos hit the screens and generated the anticipated curiosity. In the words of a reviewer describing the theatre trailer: “The dialogues that follow clearly imply the theme of the movie. While one might have imagined that Rang De Basanti is a fun comedy flick from the first trailer, this trailer gives the movie a more social look talking about the upliftment of the country and the corrupt systems within. Still it doesn't get conventionally preachy.”
The premiere party for the film received tremendous media coverage and on 26 January the film was released amidst a lot of fanfare with the cast and crew visiting theatres across the country to promote the film.

4. Controversies: Days before the movie was slated to release, in mid-January 2006, reports in the media had the Indian Air Force objected to a computer-generated scene in the movie showing the crash of a MiG-21 fighter aircraft. The controversy was resolved when a special screening was held for senior Government and military officials, who after viewing the movie, commented that it was "open-minded" and believed in freedom of speech and expression and had no objections to the screening of the film.
A day after the Indian Air Force said it had no objections to the movie, it was embroiled in a fresh controversy over its use of animals with Animal rights activists and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) member Maneka Gandhi alleging the film's producer had used animals without getting the mandatory permission of the board. This controversy was resolved when the “offending scene” deleted from the movie. These controversies were widely covered by the local and international media and the film’s promoters ensured that in their interaction with the media, they extracted maximum mileage out of these controversies to add to the buildup of the movie.

5. Special Screenings: Rakyesh Mehra along with the cast and crew also promoted the screening of Rang De Basanti in another unique manner – they literally took the product to the target audience. The film was screened at various places including, ‘Infosys’ (Hyderabad and Bangalore locations) the leading software company in India, boasting of a workforce predominantly in the age group of 23-35.The movie was also screened at IIT (Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai) the premium institute of technology in India having on its rolls the brightest minds in India. The director Rakyesh Mehra also attended the screening of Rang De Basanti in Ahmedabad, Gujarat which has seen some of the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in recent times. The promotion of Rang De Basanti was therefore unprecedented. The special screenings of Rang De Basanti were also always followed by a discussion which helped spark debates about its theme, the role of citizens while enabling rational discussions about the nation state, national identity and nationalism. This aspect also helped promote citizenship in India as youngsters moved by the realist images and the marketing strategies of Rang De Basanti now felt encouraged take part in public life and debates and discussions about the movie.

6. Media Partners: Media partners of Rang De Basanti included ‘Radio Mirchi’ , ‘Channel [V]’ and MSN website. Rang De Basanti in an exclusive tie-up with MSN “used the power of MSN blogs to generate hype around the movie”. In this unique tie-up, MSN set up blogs for all the six lead actors of Rang De Basanti so as to enable the public to “chat and interact” with them on a regular basis. The premier of the movie was also “web-cast” on MSN on the 26th January, the day the film released in the theatre. The movie also had in-film advertising of news broadcaster NDTV and it stars appeared on many shows on the news channel in the period during which the film released garnering free airtime. Popular website also had a special section on their portal dedicated to the film. Mobile2win, a leading Indian mobile content company, had also launched a mobile game based on the movie in an exclusive tie-up with UTV and Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra Pictures, the producers of the film.

7. Screening at International film festivals: The film was screened at several international film festivals to promote the film abroad. In 2006, it premiered in France with the Lyon Asiexpo Film Festival, the Wisconsin Film Festival and the Morocco-based International Film Festival of Marrakech

8. Awards: As the film moved from the Growth Stage of its PLC where the DVD was released and entered maturity phase where it was premiered on television on STAR Gold, various reports in the media documented several high profile awards for which the movie was nominated including, the Golden Globe, the Oscars and the BAFTA awards. These awards are an important cog in the marketing campaign of an movie – highlights this by saying: “It is a commonly known fact that following the Academy's stamp of "Best Picture" or "Best Director", films' box-office and DVD sales sky-rocket.”

5. Money:
Out of the Rs. 25 Crore Production Budget, UTV spent Rs. 10 Crore – a whopping 40% compared to the usual 5% of a typical Bollywood film on its marketing and promotions alone. Out of the Rs. 10 Crore marketing campaign, Rs. 2 Crore came from the producers while the rest was obtained through brand tie-ups and partnering. The marketing campaign clearly paid off as it had gross revenues of Rs. 30 Crores in India in the first thirteen weeks of its release. According to Saurabh Varma, the erstwhile marketing head of PVR Cinemas, "It got a phenomenal opening and so far it has sustained the success. The total collection till now (after 3 weeks) from the film is approximately Rs.35 million and the occupancy rate is 75 percent in most of the PVR outlets."

6. Measurement:
In a year that was stupendous for the Hindi Film Industry, Rang De Basanti stood out as result of its focused integrated marketing communication campaign which managed to create the desired audience connect and the product lived up to the billing. The Hindu noted: “The year 2006 was unlike any other for the Hindi film industry. Gandhigiri, superheroes, new age patriotism, broken marriages, comedies... almost everything worked. Subhanallah (Fanaa) and Masti ki Paatshala (Rang De Basanti) topped the charts as did Beedi (Omkara) and Rock`n' Roll (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna)… Not being preachy also worked for new-age patriotism, Rang De Basanti being case in point. RDB became a reference point to a number of protests across the nation.“ The Box Office Collections of the film also reflect the success of the campaign as shown in the following table.
Domestic Box Office Collections:
Week Collections (INR) Avg. Per Print (INR)
1 11,06,83,169 6,74,555
2 5,53,97,698 5,22,620
3 4,92,44,627 4,51,786
4 2,73,80,029 2,68,432
5 1,61,85,394 1,83,925
6 1,29,12,851 1,61,411
7 1,13,00,830 1,59,167
8 89,33,060 1,25,818
10 66,44,996 93,591
11 14,29,876 64,994
12 9,23,303 35,512
13 4,15,957 69,326
Total Gross 30,14,51,790

International Box Office Collections: (all figures in local currency)

Country Date Rank Amount Screens Average Per Screen Total Gross

Australia 26-Feb-06 N.A. 81,367 8 10,171 N.A.

Singapore 26-Feb-06 N.A. 31,000 N.A. N.A. N.A.

United 27-Feb-06 13 2,21,226 38 5,822 N.A.
Kingdom 3-Feb-06 16 1,25,000 37 3,378 4,30,000
10-Feb-06 14 90,814 33 2,752 5,63,142
17-Feb-06 19 63,778 33 1,933 6,90,163
3-Mar-06 34 18,287 20 914 7,78,435
10-Mar-06 38 9,780 10 978 7,94,296
17-Mar-06 41 7,409 6 1,235 8,05,227
24-Mar-06 38 8,316 8 1,040 8,15,951
31-Mar-06 49 2,987 4 747 8,21,275
7-Apr-06 53 1,484 5 297 8,24,148

United 27-Feb-06 23 7,01,666 61 11,503 N.A.
States 3-Feb-06 28 4,25,533 66 6,447 12,07,233
Of America 10-Feb-06 34 2,54,566 65 3,916 15,05,166
17-Feb-06 35 2,82,647 63 4,486 18,39,413
24-Mar-06 46 1,27,775 51 2,505 20,08,301
3-Mar-06 52 72,442 39 1,857 20,95,931
10-Mar-06 59 36,453 30 1,215 21,43,354
17-Mar-06 62 25,138 25 1,006 21,77,949
24-Mar-06 75 10,941 18 608 21,93,052
31-Mar-06 108 2,144 6 357 21,97,331

The international awards for which the film was nominated for as well as the clean sweep of the domestic awards including winning a National Award (as illustrated earlier in the timeline), especially in a year of high profile and huge successful other releases, also bear testimony to the successful campaign. In fact by the time the film led Oscar’s race (January 2007) it had collected Rs 125 crore at the box office till date (Rs 75 crore in the domestic market, Rs 25 crore overseas and Rs 25 crore through auxiliary income) and has had the highest DVD sales of 72,000 units. But perhaps none of these metrics measure the success of the campaign more than the ‘Pepsi & MTV Youth Icon 2007' where the youth of India have voted 'ORKUT' - the biggest youth social networking forum, as the undisputed winner of the 'Pepsi & MTV Youth Icon 2007' with Rang De Basanti coming in a close second. This decisively proved that the message had reached the intended market indeed and how!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

IMC Journal | Part 4

A lot of my classmates from the IMC class told me that my blog helped them prepare for the midterm... well guys, like the hutch/vodafone pug ad says "Happy to help". (Just a request, if you visit the blog, do leave a comment - would love to hear from y'all!)

Speaking of the mid-term, well, it was not sinister - in fact far from it - it was a test that made u think, ponder, reflect... quite a welcome break from the mug-vomit routine. And the best part - most of think that there cannot be any one correct answer to most questions and I daresay, we are all right from our point of view.

Yesterday's class was different to say the least... (for a while I thought was back in the gaseous climes of the HR class!!) with class being divided into 4 groups and given drinking straws to build towers that would be judged on 3 criteria - strength, height and beauty. But here was the catch - one chap from each group was meet with Mirchi while the rest were given the resources (the straws) and could start building. These chaps - deemed as leaders of the groups - rejoined their respective groups and started working with us, though by then some labeled them chamchas or 'spies' (Yes - even at the MBA level, we still have the ripe wisdom and maturity of a montessary student - and you know what, class & life would be grey without it!)

So while our group endevaoured to make a straw tower (something that would tower over even Sid Srinivasan) in the alloted 20 minutes, each one of us came up with the master engineering plan and started building as if blessed by Lord Vishwakarma himself... aamra shobai raja ei rajar rajotte! (We are all kings in this king's kingdom) It was total chaos... and finally with multiple leaders and no singular thought, it was no suprise that we did not really have a straw tower. Next came branding and launching our non-existent tower. (By then some of us including me on the sly started 'fixing' it to salvage some pride)

Creativity has no bounds and this exercise proved it! T first group pitched their tower as the "love nest" for honeymooning couples in Bejing (ala the Bird's Nest stadium?) but methinks no one for the love of God would dare stay there; group two called theirs "the earthquake" - an entertainment centre under construction that would host the world's most thrilling roller coaster ride; the third group's tower was pitched as an old school cigar bar - truth is that it all smoke and mirrors! As for us, we creatively pitched ours as "Burj-e-Qaida": a symbol of revolution built for the "liberators" against the Whiteman's opression! (golper goru gache utheche re! - sorry - when I get emotional I tend to burst out in my mother tongue - that Bengali phrase can be loosely translated as "the cow in the story climbed a tree" - absurdism anyone?)

Then came the points and to no real suprise our score was Zero (hey what's there to be sad abt that - afterall that's India's contribution to the world!)

This entire exercise was an illustration of how organisations and agencies worked in real life - what are the challenges faced by individuals and teams when a brand campaign is launched. It effectively illustrated how the leadership Style was important for achieving a common vision and ensuring productivity - - how there must a certain Structure in the group to get the desired results (too many leaders with no followers or vice versa and we come down like a house of cards) - - that there must a System (chaos theory doesn't quite cut it here) - - the Staff ie the employees can make or break a campaign and everyone must be on board when the campaign is being executed - - Skills of each employee must be optimally utilised - - and finally there must be a Strategy to hold it all together. Indeed Strategy is the glue and blueprint of any campaign (and I daresay for anything one wants to achieve)... all of these would mean that the team is built upon a certain set of Shared Values (and that's an Olympic achievement).

The following diagram captures the essence of the exercise:

Friday, August 22, 2008

IMC Journal | Part 3.2

Amazing what deadlines can do to a man! Here I am back with the concluding part of my journal entry... up until now, we have discussed what are the various types of campaigns used. Now it's time to take a look at the various media used in IMC.

I came across an interesting point of view on IMC in a paper by Danny Vargas (president of VARCom Solutions) - "Integrated Marketing Communication is a way of looking at the whole marketing process from the viewpoint of the customer."

According to Danny Vargas, an effective IMC process comprises the following steps which I find this similar to our 6M model.:
• Identify the target audiences—This requires awell thought out market segmentation and targeting process which may include secondary and/or primary market research.
• Determine the communications objectives—As stated previously, this can range from generating awareness to countering the competition.
• Design the messaging content—This is an absolutely critical component. Effective messaging can make or break a promotional effort.
• Select the means for communications.
• Define the mix of media, budget and priorities.
• Measure the effectiveness of the efforts.

With this in mind, we understand it is imperative to ensure that the message is delivered to the customer in a form that he desires - effectively underscoring the importance of the media or vehicle of communication and thus Media Planning is a critical cog in the Marketing Strategy of an organization (of the 4 Ps - Media Planning is a part of Promotion process).

Media Planning can be defined as "Process of designing a scheduling plan that shows how advertising time and space in selected media and vehicles contribute to the achievement of marketing objectives in an advertising campaign". Media planning, in general terms, is a tool that allows the advertiser to select the most appropriate media to communicate the message in sufficient frequency towards the maximum number of potential customers at the lowest cost.

At the onset, we need to be clear about the 2 basic terms used in Media Planning...

--> Medium: A medium is a carrier and deliverer of Advertisements. It is a broad general category of carries such as Newspapers, Television, Radio, Internet, Outdoor, Direct Mail, etc.

--> Vehicle: It is a specific carrier within a Media category. So a Zee TV would be the vehicle in the category of TV. Many a time a specific programs or sections within a medium may be termed as a vehicle. For example, a "Kyunki saas bhi…" on Star Plus would be the vehicle in the Television category.

Choosing which media or type of advertising to use is sometimes tricky, especially for small firms with limited budgets and know-how. Large-market television and newspapers are often too expensive for a company that services only a small area (although local newspapers can be used). Magazines, unless local, usually cover too much territory to be cost-efficient for a small firm, although some national publications offer regional or city editions. Metropolitan radio stations present the same problems as TV and metro newspapers; however, in smaller markets, the local radio station and newspaper may sufficiently cover a small firm's audience. That's why it's important to put together a media plan for an IMC campaign.

The three components of a Media Plan are as follows:

1. Defining the marketing problem. Do we know where our business is coming from and where the potential for increased business lies? Do we know which markets offer the greatest opportunity? Do we need to reach everybody or only a select group of consumers? How often is the product used? How much product loyalty exists?

2. Translating the marketing requirements into attainable media objectives. Do we want to reach a lot of people in a wide area (to get the most out of your advertising spend)? Then mass media, like newspaper and radio, might work for us. If our target market is a select group in a defined geographic area, then direct mail could be our best bet.

3. Defining a media solution by formulating media strategies. Certain schedules work best with different media. For example, the rule of thumb is that a print ad must run three times before it gets noticed. Radio advertising is most effective when run at certain times of the day or around certain programs, depending on what market we're trying to reach.

To determine the media expenditure it is best to classify brands as shown below:

A High Premium Brand need not always be profitable - eg: Kingfisher Airlines where as Low Premium Value - High Profitability Brands include Coke & Pepsi. Hitch Hiker Brands are those that ride on upward growth of sector or category like the brands in a men's formal ready to wear category whereas Dead End Brands are those that have Low Profitability & Premium (in terms of Branding Communication) like Lifebuoy Soap. High Road Brands are usually the first movers in a category and obtain leadership position - thus require a Pioneering Campaign where as Low Road Brands are those that exisit in a cluttered space - thus require Competitive and Retentive Campaigns. Also for the latterm cumulative media spend would be high but individual spend need not be much - eg Telecom Service Providers.

To understand the various media and what type of IMC campaign they are suitable for click on the following link:

Hasta La Vista Baby!

IMC Journal | Part 3.1

When the Japanese invented the JIT system, they probably would have never thought of the realms in which the concept could be applied to. And I daresay they could not have possibly known about this good School of Business in Mumbai where the students would adopt it wholeheartedly and adapt it so indigenously that batch after batch it would become the motto of their life here. That said, here I am, with the third instalment of my Journal - Just In Time :)

As this is as good a time as any to recap what the course has been all about, especially since we have a (sinister?) mid term tomorrow, I decided to go back to the very basics - to understand how one can define IMC or Integrated Marketing Communication. Good ol' Wiki to my rescue again - here's what Wikipedia says: Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), according to The American Marketing Association, is “a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.”

According to the Marketing Power Dictionary, Integrated marketing communication can be defined as a holistic approach to promote buying and selling in the digital economy. This concept includes many online and offline marketing channels.

Online marketing channels include any e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to latest web related channels for webinar, blog, RSS, podcast, and Internet TV.

Offline marketing channels are traditional print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relations, industry analyst relations billboard, radio, and television."

Another definition from says IMC is "A management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation."

I think these thoughts are more or less in tune with the thoughts exchanged in class for the past 3 - 4 weeks. The increasing communication options of recent years have contributed to clutter and noise in the market. As I wrote in Part 1.1, a market is a platform for exchange of various things between buyers and sellers. It is but common sense that in a cluttered and noisy environment, an optimal exchange is not feasble. This had made it important for marketers (sellers) to integrate their marketing communication and break through the barrier of noise to reach the buyers.

We had also understood that a market can be defined by the 3 C framework of the famous Japanese Strategy Guru - Kenichi Ohmae (learnt this name ironically from one the article's from the reading Tsunami) i.e. Corporation, Customer and Competition. Indeed with ever growing competition it becomes imperative to have a focussed message communicated to the customer. Any message can be of two types - rational or emotional (however the recent Bingo ads have also shown a third type - humour or absurdism) and the type of message would depend on the nature of communication planned / required. To optimally deliver the message to the target customer, the concept of IMC was introduced in 1993.

The AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) Model has been the traditional process that has determined the flow of marketing communications and direct sales efforts by...
1. Create attention;
2. Generate interest;
3. Develop desire;
4. Initiate action.

The IMC way extends AIDA so to speak. Using the PLC of a product or a service, one can determine the type of IMC campaign required i.e. in the Introduction Stage - Pioneering Campaign is needed, in the Growth Stage - Competitive Campaign, in the Maturity Stage of the PLC - Retentive and finally in the Decline stage a Repositioning / Rebranding Campaign is required.

A Pioneering Campaign seeks to kickstart the 'AI' part of AIDA i.e. to Create Attention and Generate Interest - thus starts the upward 'Pain Curve' of a customer at not having the product. As interest transforms into desire the Pain Curve keeps heading north and it reaches its peak at the Point of Purchase (Action) and hereon it bifurcates into a downward (falling) pain curve and (hopefully) rising Pride curve. Thus the campaign Enlisted the customer. But IMC does not stop here - Post Action, a campaign seeks to also Engage, Empower and eventually Enslave the customer.

Another way to understand what type of campaign is to be used is done by using the Ansoff Matrix:

Now if a New Product is to be introduced in an Existing Market (i.e. in case of a Product Development as we saw in with the BMW M5 ad shown in class) or in the reverse case of Market Development (as Coke did when it came into India) or in case of a Diversification (Reliance Infocomm), then a Pioneering Campaign is needed. Similarly to promote an Existing Product in an Existing Market (Market Penetration), a Competitive Campaign is required.

From the point of view of the Media used and the Market, Campaigns can be classified as:

These above classification may also spawn hybrids such as a Continuous Focussed campaign where a campaign has a singular message delivered over a long period of time - for instance the Pulse Polio Campaign.

Friday, August 8, 2008

IMC Journal | Part 2

A lot of water has flown in the IMC class since my last journal entry - the topic zeroed in for our campaign is "Incredible India" and our job is to come up with a better one! Enjoying myself as the 'CEO' of my group - coordinating with everyone and brainstorming... hope to give this one a real good shot.


Our campaign dissection of Rang De Basanti is also done... will post it here as soon as we submit it to Sir.


Last class was interesting since we collectively dissected 2 very different campaigns in the class using the framework of the 3Cs and the 6M model.

The first campaign that we dissected was the corporate campaign of Tata Steel circa 2000 titled "A Century of Trust"... the subliminal messages addressing the erstwhile scenario in which the company opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of marketing communication. (You can have a dekko of all the Tata ads over the years at this link: - bottomline: the message that the ad sent out was "we are a century old young brand" aimed at all the stakeholders of the colossal conglomerate.

I enjoyed the other advertisement even more - it was an ad featuring Madonna and Clive Owen (that's right boys and girls, something for everyone here :P) made by the celebrated British director (and Madonnaji's pati parameshwar), Guy Richie. This advertisement was a part of 7 ad films made to promote the BMW M5 (sexy car). The ad film was quite long and seemed self indulgent at the start but was effective in communicating the message (that this was a "fun" car to drive) to the target audience. The M5 was a new product targetted at an existing market.
(Take some time to see the video of the ad at - I guarentee that you wont regret it).

This week we would be comparing the ad messages of Coke, Pantene and McDonald's in India and Abroad - and the evolution of the messages of these brands in India over the years. Sounds good to me...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jio Bangali

These are some of my favourite articles on us Bongs! Jio Bangali!


Home Is Where the Bengali Is - Bachi Karkaria

"There is some corner of a foreign field/ Which is forever Bengali." Ki nonsense kotha. It's not a corner; it's the whole blaady expanse. Ours is an eenbhasion, a coup. From which the attackee will never recoupaarate, I might add. It's true. Suddenly the Bengalis are everywhere. So many, taking over so much, in so many places that I wonder if there are any left in Kolkata. Formerly, you saw Bengalis outside Bengal only when you went on holiday.There they were, the men in Fair Isle sweaters knitted lovingly by their mothers, their wives in blue cardigans, the baachcha in monkey cap. Wherever you went, they were always there, a swagger to their step and boxy camera around their neck along with the matching "maaflar". Whether you were in Kashmir or Kanyakumari, in Nepal or Neyvelli, in Sri Lanka or Sariska, you always found one Bombay Photo Studio, one Madras Café, one Tibetan curio shop, and one Bengali family.

When Hilary and Tenzing climbed Everest, did they find a mysterious mishti syrup stain on the snow, irrefutable evidence that The Bengali Was Here? When Jacques Cousteau plumbed the icy deep, did he find a trace of maastard oil on Antarctic ocean-bed and telltale signs of a neatly-picked rohu skeleton? When Armstrong floated on the lunar surface, had Neel-da already taken one small step for Bongkind in his trusty Bata sandals?

I am prepared to bet on it, whatever may be the conspiracy of silence which has prevented the inveterate Bengali traveller from being given his due (LTA already collected, thank you).

When I began to venture abroad, they would be there not just as tourists, but as NRBs. Keep your motel, Mr. Patel, Shri Banerjee has spread himself wider, higher, deeper across the globe. In the suburban Cardiff of the early 70s, there wasn't anything non-Welsh for miles around. Anything except Mr Palit. He was the husband of one of the secretaries of our Thomson Foundation and, taking pity on us for having to face the bland hostel fare, she invited us for dinner. We expected a tastier version of our usual cod and chips. But what a spread we got: course upon course of authentic Bangla Ranna, whose aromas wafted out of the chintzy windows and unleashed all manner of uncharacteristic urges in the staid neighbourhood of Penarth. Three decades on, I can still recall that we had a chochchori of very English vegetables, ghoogni, chingdi malai curry, even chaatni. True, it wasn't today's beeay-bari favourite, the "plastic" variety. Procuring aamshatto anywhere in Wales in those pre-Curry Colonialism days would have defeated even the enterprising Palit-babu but the tomato version he dished up was properly spiked with raisins and suited us fine. There was a fiery fish which could pass off for rui. And we rounded it off with homemade shandesh. It was amazing. Was it a waking dream, we wondered as we were driven back, gently burping all the way.

Then, of course, came the rising Diaspora, so dominated by brilliant Bengalis that it came to be called the Diaspora. It occasioned no surprise to encounter them all over the States, deep in the mid-West or on the farthest Hawaiian island. Somewhere, somehow, one caught the whiff of begun bhaja in the air. "Is that a narkel bora I see before me, glistening through the Minnesota mist? It is. It is the Mistress of Spices at her magic. And should something go awry, the other Bengali, the Interpreter of Maladies, will Jhumpa up to set it right. Yes, Bengalis are certainly no slouches, either, in all the English-language fiction that has stewed in Indian creative juices. Slouches? They're winning both the marathon and the 100-metre dash in the race to literary glory.

It's the same closer to home. There are so many Bengalis occupying pole positions where I work that, if you don't speak the language, you might as well take the golden handshake. Being an Hon Bong, I scrape into the club by the skin of my teeth. When I left Kolkata - when it was still Calcutta and Jyotibabu was not yet CM - to join The Times of India as a trainee, Sumitbabu, my journalism professor at Cal U gave an introductory call to his in-laws who lived in Mumbai. At least one Sunday a month, I took the bus to their terrace flat in Parel where, to the gentle flap of drying Dhonekhali saris, I would savour posto, papad and payesh and dispel the homesickness.

In later Mumbai years, the Bengali population spread like waterhyacinth in a Beliaghata pukur, so much so that there were almost as many Pujo pandals as Ganapati ones and any market worth the name boasted a sweet-water fishmonger - Anwar, Bishuda, Chanchalbabu - right down the alphabet. The Sunday crowd thronging his stall was there as much for the community camaraderie as for the golda chingri. So it didn't really matter if it was " Bombay bekti" or if the ilish did not come from the Podda, but from the Narmada in nearer Bharuch.

Moving to Delhi , of course, I was in clover and kashundi to my heart's content. Chitto Park is a microcosm - and not a very micro one at that -of para-Kolkata. Oh bliss it was in that den to be eating shinghara,and to be there in Pujo time was very heaven. Boudis in lal-paars, dhakis,bhog,Bijoli Grill's kobiraji caat-let, Nizam's kathi rolls. And crowds to rival Gariahat on Mahashtami night. Bhaba jaye na. If you can't be in Kolkata, Delhi is the next best thing.

Generally speaking, if you want to survive into the future you'd better cross over. Learn the language, buy a Dhakai, get a Bengali son-in-law. Me? I'm changing my name to Bagchi.


What 'Pujo' means to a Bengali – Vir Sanghvi

Most modern Indian cities strive to rise above ethnicity. Tell anybody who lives in Bombay that he lives in a Maharashtrian city and (unless of course, you are speaking to Bal Thackeray) he will take immediate offence. We are cosmopolitan, he will say indigenously.

Tell a Delhiwalla that his is a Punjabi city (which, in many ways, it is) and he will respond with much self-righteous nonsense about being the nation's capital, about the international composition of the city's elite etc.

And tell a Bangalorean that he lives in a Kannadiga city and you'll get lots of techno-gaff about the internet revolution and about how Bangalore is even more cosmopolitan than Bombay .

But, the only way to understand what Kolkata is about is recognize that the city is essentially Bengali. What's more, no Bengali minds you saying that. Rather, he is proud of the fact.

Kolkata's strengths and weaknesses mirror those of the Bengali character. It has the drawbacks: the sudden passions, the cheerful chaos, the utter contempt for mere commerce, the fiery response to the smallest provocation. And it has the strengths (actually, I think of the drawbacks as strengths in their own way). Kolkata embodies the Bengali love of culture; the triumph of intellectualism over greed; the complete transparency of all emotions, the disdain with which hypocrisy and insincerity are treated; the warmth of genuine humanity; and the supremacy of emotion over all other aspects of human existence.

That's why Kolkata is not for everyone.

You want your cities clean and green; stick to Delhi . You want your cities, rich and impersonal; go to Bombay . You want them high-tech and full of draught beer; Bangalore 's your place. But if you want a city with a soul: come to Kolkata.

When I look back on the years I've spent in Kolkata - and I come back so many times each year that I often feel I've never been away - I don't remember the things that people remember about cities.

When I think of London , I think of the vast open spaces of Hyde Park .

When I think of New York , I think of the frenzy of Times Square .

When I think of Tokyo , I think of the bright lights of Shinjiku.

And when I think of Paris , I think of the Champs Elysee.

But when I think of Kolkata, I never think of any one place. I don't focus on the greenery of the maidan, the beauty of the Victoria Memorial, the bustle of Burra Bazar or the splendour of the new Howrah Bridge .

I think of people. Because, finally, a city is more than bricks and mortars, street lights and tarred roads. A city is the sum of its people. And who can ever forget or replicate - the people of Kolkata?

When I first came to live here, I was told that the city would grow on me. What nobody told me was that the city would change my life. It was in Kolkata that I learn't about true warmth; about simple human decency; about love and friendship; about emotions and caring; about truth and honesty. I learn't other things too. Coming from Bombay as I did, it was a revelation to live in a city where people judged each other on the things that really mattered; where they recognized that being rich did not make you a better person - in fact, it might have the opposite effect. I learn't also that if life is about more than just money, it is about the things that other cities ignore; about culture, about ideas, about art, and about passion.

In Bombay , a man with a relatively low income will salt some of it away for the day when he gets a stock market tip. In Kolkata, a man with exactly the same income will not know the difference between a debenture and a dividend. But he will spend his money on the things that matter. Each morning, he will read at least two newspapers and develop sharply etched views on the state of the world. Each evening, there will be fresh (ideally, fresh-water or river) fish on his table. His children will be encouraged to learn to dance or sing. His family will appreciate the power of poetry And for him, religion and culture will be in inextricably bound together.

Ah religion! Tell outsiders about the importance of Puja in Kolkata and they'll scoff. Don't be silly, they'll say. Puja is a religious festival. And Bengal has voted for the CPM since 1977. How can godless Bengal be so hung up on a religions festival? I never know how to explain them that to a Bengali, religion consists of much more than shouting Jai Shri Ram or pulling down somebody's mosque. It has little to do with meaningless ritual or sinister political activity.

The essence of Puja is that all the passions of Bengal converge: emotion, culture, the love of life, the warmth of being together, the joy of celebration, the pride in artistic expression and yes, the cult of the goddess. It may be about religion. But is about much more than just worship. In which other part of India would small, not particularly well-off localities, vie with each other to produce the best sandals? Where else could puja pandals go beyond religion to draw inspiration from everything else? In the years I lived in Kolkata, the pandals featured Amitabh Bachchan, Princes Diana and even Saddam Hussain! Where else would children cry with the sheer emotional power of Dashimi, upset that the Goddess had left their homes? Where else would the whole city gooseflesh when the dhakis first begin to beat their drums? Which other Indian festival - in any part of the country - is so much about food, about going from one roadside stall to another, following your nose as it trails the smells of cooking?

To understand Puja, you must understand Kolkata. And to understand Kolkata, you must understand the Bengali. It's not easy. Certainly, you can't do it till you come and live here, till you let Kolkata suffuse your being, invade your bloodstream and steal your soul. But once you have, you'll love Kolkata forever.

Wherever you go, a bit of Kolkata will go with you. I know, because it's happened to me. And every Puja, I am overcome by the magic of Bengal .

It's a feeling that'll never go away.


The Bong Alphabet

is for Awpheesh (as in Office). This is where the average Kolkakattan goes and spends a day hard at work. And if he works for the 'West Bengal Gawrment' he will arrive at 10, wipe his forehead till 11, have a tea break at 12, throw around a few files at 12.30, break for lunch at 1, smoke an unfiltered cigarette at 2, break for tea at 3, sleep sitting down at 4 and go home at 4:30. It's a hard life!

is for Bhision. For some reason many Bengalis don't have good bhision. In fact in Kolkata most people are wearing spectacles all the time.

is for Chappell. Currently, this is the Bengali word for the Devil, for the worst form of evil. In the night mothers put their kids to sleep saying, 'Na ghumaley Chappell eshey dhorey niye jabe.'

is for Debashish or any other name starting with Deb. By an ancient law every fourth Bengali Child has to be named Debashish. So you have a Debashish everywhere and trying to get creative they are also called Deb, Debu, Deba with variations like Debanik, Deboprotim, Debojyoti, etc. thrown in at times.

is for Eeesh. This is a very common Bengali exclamation made famous by Aishwarya Rai in the movie Devdas. It is estimated that on an average a Bengali, especially Bengali women, use eeesh 10,089 times every year. 'Ei Morechhey' is a close second to Eeesh.

is for Feeesh. These are creatures that swim in rivers and seas and are a favourite food of the Bengalis. Despite the fact that a fish market has such strong smells, with one sniff a Bengali knows if a fish is all right. If not he will say 'eeesh what feeesh is theesh!'

is for Good name. Every Bengali boy will have a good name like Debashish or Deboprotim and a pet name like Motka, Bhombol, Thobla, etc. While every Bengali girls will have pet names like Tia, Tuktuki, Mishti, Khuku, etc.

is for Harmonium. This the Bengali equivalent of a rock guitar. Take four Bengalis and a Harmonium and you have the successors to The Bheatles!

is for lleesh. This is a feeesh with 10,000 bones which would kill any ordinary person, but which the Bengalis eat with releeesh!

is for Jhola. No self respecting Bengali is complete without his Jhola. It is a shapeless cloth bag where he keeps all his belongings and he fits an amazing number of things in. Even as you read this there are 2 million jholas bobbling around Kolkata - and they all look exactly the same! Note
that 'Jhol' as in Maachher Jhol is a close second.

is for Kee Kaando !. It used to be the favourite Bengali exclamation till eeesh took over because of Aishwarya Rai (now Kee Kando's agent is trying to hire Bipasha Basu).

is for Lungi - the dress for all occasions. People in Kolkata manage to play football and cricket wearing it not to mention the daily trip in the morning to the local bajaar. Now there is talk of a lungi expedition to Mt. Everest .

is for Minibus. These are dangerous half buses whose antics would effortlessly frighten the living daylights out of all James Bond stuntmen as well as Formula 1 race car drivers.

is for Nangto. This is the Bengali word for Naked. It is the most interesting naked word in any language!

is for Oil. The Bengalis believe that a touch of mustard oil will cure anything from cold (oil in the nose), to earache (oil in the ear), to cough (oil on the throat) to piles (oil you know where!)

is for Phootball. This is always a phavourite phassion of the Kolkattan. Every Bengali is born an expert in this game. The two biggest clubs there are Mohunbagan and East Bengal and when they play the city comes to a stop.

is for Queen. This really has nothing to do with the Bengalis or Kolkata, but it's the only Q word I could think of at this moment. There's also Quilt but they never use them in Kolkata.

is for Robi Thakur. Many nany years ago Rabindranath got the Nobel Prize. This has given the right to all Bengalis no matter where they are to frame their acceptance speeches as if they were directly related to the great poet and walk with their head held high. This also gives Bengalis the birthright to look down at Delhi and Mumbai and of course 'all non-Bengawlees'! Note that 'Rawshogolla' comes a close second!

is for Shourav. Now that they finally produced a genuine cricketer and a captain, Bengalis think that he should be allowed to play until he is 70 years old. Of course they will see to it that he stays in good form by doing a little bit of 'joggo' and 'maanot'.

is for Trams. Hundred years later there are still trams in Kolkata. Of course if you are in a hurry it's faster to walk.

is for Aambrela. When a Bengali baby is born he is handed one.

is for Bhaayolence. Bengalis are the most non-violent violent people around. When an accident happens they will fold up their sleeves, shout and scream and curse and abuse, "Chherey De Bolchhi" but the last time someone actually hit someone was in 1979.

is for Water. For three months of the year the city is underwater and every year for the last 200 years the authorities are taken by surprise by this!

is for X'mas. It's very big in Kolkata, with Park Street fully lit up and all Bengalis agreeing that they must eat cake that day.

is for Yesshtaarday. Which is always better than today for a Bengali (see R for Robi Thakur).

is for Jebra, Joo, Jipper and Jylophone.


A Job Interview

Bill Gates organized an enormous session to recruit a new Chairman for Microsoft Europe. 5000 candidates assembled in a large room. One candidate was Debdas Banerjee an Indian (Bengali) guy.

Bill Gates thanked all the candidates for coming and asking those who do not know JAVA program to leave. 2000 people left the room. Debdas said to himself, 'I do not know JAVA but I have nothing to lose if I stay. I'll give it a try'

Bill Gates asked the candidates who never had experience of managing more than 100 people to leave. 2000 people left the room. Debdas said to himself ' I never managed anybody by myself but I have nothing to lose if I stay. What can happen to me?' So he stayed.

Then Bill Gates asked candidates who did not have management diplomas to leave. 500 people left the room. Debdas said to himself, 'I left school at 15 but what have I got to lose?' So he stayed in the room.

Lastly, Bill Gates asked the candidates who did not speak Serbo – Croat to leave. 498 people left the room.

Debdas said to himself, ' I do not speak one word of Serbo - Croat but what do I have to lose?' So he stayed and found himself with one other candidate. Everyone else had gone.

Bill Gates joined them and said 'Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serbo - Croat, so I'd now like to hear you have a conversation together in that language.'

Calmly, Debdas turned to the other candidate and said - 'Ki cholchhe dada. Kemon achho.'

The other candidate answered - 'bhalo achhi bhai.'


Love For One's Wife…

Through the jongole I am went

On shooting Tiger I am bent

Boshtaard Tiger has eaten wife

No doubt I will avenge poor darling's life

Too much quiet, snakes and leeches

But I not fear these sons of beeches

Hearing loud noise I am jumping with start

But noise is coming from damn fool's heart

Taking care not to be fright

I am clutching rifle tight with eye to sight

Should Tiger come I will shoot and fall him down

Then like hero return to native town

Then through trees I am espying one cave

I am telling self - "Banerjee be brave"

I am now proceeding with too much care

From far I smell this Tiger's lair

My leg shaking, sweat coming, I start pray

I think I will shoot Tiger some other day

Turning round I am going to flee

But Tiger giving bloody roar spotting Bengalee

He bounding from cave like footballer Pele

I run shouting "Kali Ma tumi kothay gele"

Through the jongole I am running

With Tiger on my tail closer looming

I am a telling that never in life

I will risk again for my damn wife!!!!